The Pill That Steals Lives

London July 2016

This week myself and Tony abandoned the minors, left them in the care of the (sergeant) majors and took ourselves off to London. With promises of presents and various forms of bribery, they waved us off without a second glance – the deals were struck. With one condition – as long as we were back for Henny-Benny’s 12th birthday on Wednesday, we could do whatever else we liked. The purpose of our trip overseas was to attend a book launch in Waterstones of Kensington – Katinka Blackford Newman’s ‘The Pill That Steals Lives’. Having read excerpts in the Mail and spoken to Katinka over the last year, I was really looking forward to it.

Katinka is a film producer, director and author – she’s also attractive, clever and extremely funny (as are her 2 amazing children). Her book depicts a particularly harrowing year in her life, a year that started with a marriage break-up and a prescription for Escitalopram (Lexapro/Cipralex). She describes, in painful detail, her subsequent spiral into an emotionally-blunted, chronically-fatigued, medicated shell of her former self. Weirdly, as a result of running out of health insurance, she survived to tell this tale. Her autobiographical account of that year is told in a sometimes tragic, yet often humorous way – this book is a stunner. Considering the enormous increases in antidepressant prescribing, for every conceivable ailment (from exam woes to shyness), I hope it is read far and wide.

We had arranged to meet up with our friends before the book launch (Brian, his better half and Bobby Fiddaman). Brian and the Mrs were staying in a very posh hotel, where the concierges wore top hats and tails – we weren’t. A previous fiasco in Denmark led them to choose their own hotel this time – but that’s another story. Nevertheless, the concierge was very friendly and courteous and after equally posh aperitifs, we all travelled together to Waterstones bookshop on Kensington’s High Street.

It was fabulous. We met other Irish friends there too – Stephanie and John Lynch, whose son Jake tragically died from an antidepressant-induced death at age 14. There were people from all corners of the globe, all with similar stories to tell. I was delighted to finally meet David Carmichael, who had travelled from Canada to be there. David strangled his 11-year-old son while in a Seroxat induced psychosis – he’s a very nice man and I would trust him with my life.

Kirk Brandon, a singer and friend of Bobby’s was there too. While having Lunch the following day, Kirk told an equally harrowing story of his time on Seroxat. There are so many stories, from survivors (the lucky ones) but equally from those who didn’t survive, like Shane, Kevin, Jake, Ian, et cetera. The list goes on and on – read the book.

As is the norm for us in London, we had a few hiccups along the way. Thankfully, there was no flashing of ageing bodily parts this time around, certainly not mine anyway (I can’t speak for the others). Although, getting peed on, first by torrential rain and then by Ryanair, wandering aimlessly around London in the middle of the night (due to a raging fire near Clapham Junction) was all par for the course.

Even an impromptu overnight stay in London City Airport, coupled with additional flights costing a further 600 euro, could not dampen our spirits. It was worth every penny, although we did put ourselves in jeopardy of additional bribery – we missed Henny-Benny’s birthday. All is not lost though – he’s busy concocting up a repayment scheme for the trauma of this particularly bad parenting.

The Pill That Steals Lives.

Jake and Shane’s story.

Psychiatric Drugs do More Harm Than Good.

Myself, Stephanie, Kim, Mathy and Wendy spoke at Peter Gotzsche’s Copenhagen Conference ‘psychiatric drugs do more harm than good’ (see the last post for details). I’m very proud to call these women my friends. This video shows Stephanie’s talk followed by mine. I’ll put the others up as we get them. Please be informed of the possible dangers of these drugs. For Jake, Shane and all the many SSRI victims..

Sure it’s the disease Mr Williams, not the drug

RW and MJF

Following the death of Robin Williams last week, two of his friends (Marlon Wayans and Rob Schneider) have publicly blamed his suicide on the prescription drugs he was taking. Normally when medication is blamed for suicide, usually SSRIs, academics will blame the disease, saying it’s the actual depression that causes suicide, not the drug.

One prime example was during a debate with Dr David Healy, where Veronica O’Keane from Trinity College Dublin defended SSRIs, stating “It’s very important that the public are aware, that the problem here is not antidepressants, the problem here is depression. Depression is the real killer.” In another article Professor O’Keane has said that the SSRI Prozac is “one of the few major breakthroughs in the treatment of psychiatric illness in the past 40 years”. She declared a conflict of interest here – with Eli Lilly (the inventor of Prozac).

Professor O’Keane is not alone in her opinion that ‘it’s the disease, not the drugs’. For example: following the death of my son ‘The College of Psychiatry of Ireland’ collectively stated “Anecdotal cases of suicide sometimes mistakenly attribute these tragic events to the treatment rather than the illness itself” here. An ‘internal’ College email regarding this statement entitled ‘The Shane Clancy Affair’ was then inexplicably forwarded to the implicated drug company, Lundbeck pharmaceuticals. It seems the pharmaceutical industry are never far away once prescription drugs are in the dock. So it came as no surprise, following prescription drugs being implicated for Robin Williams’ death, to see a BBC article entitled ‘Depression more common in early Parkinson’s’. The article once again blamed the illness, not the drugs.

Professor David Burn from the University of Newcastle, said depression can be an early sign of Parkinson’s. He said ‘It is well-recognised that people do get depression and anxiety up to 10 years before they develop Parkinson’s disease’ and further that ‘the disease actually starts in the brain, affecting certain chemicals’. In 2008 Professor Burn co-authored a parkinson’s disease study which proclaimed that Rasagiline (aka Azilect) slowed the progression of Parkinson’s disease. He described the results as ‘exciting’ here. The U.S. medicines regulator (FDA) were not so ‘excited’ it seems and in 2011 voted 17-0 against approving Azilect for that use, saying the study results were not convincing.

Lundbeck and Teva Pharmaceuticals hold joint marketing rights for Azilect. Professor Burn declared conflict of interests to a number of Pharmaceutical companies who make drugs for Parkinson’s disease, including Teva and Lundbeck here. In one particular Azilect study, 16 participants were on the active drug – 3 withdrew and one suffered a Transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke). Not a good result by anyone’s standards.

Michael J. Fox is probably the most high profile Parkinson’s sufferer; he regularly funds Parkinson’s research through his foundation. Before his diagnosis, Robin Williams supported the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF). Here’s the tricky bit – For the last two years the MJFF have funded Parkinson’s research projects by Lundbeck, naively in my opinion. Depression is listed on the Azilect PIL as one of the most common side effects, hallucinations being also common. It should be noted that Lundbeck are also the makers of two commonly prescribed antidepressants: Celexa and Lexapro (same drug, different story).

Sadly, if Robin Williams was on Azilect, Celexa or Lexapro, he would have had no inkling that he was supporting a drug company that manufactures a drug which possibly killed him. The latter is obviously conjecture but whatever medication Robin Williams was on, the pharmaceutical industry will be in damage limitation mode. Our newspapers and TVs will be bombarded with more articles like the BBCs, more pharma funded studies and more ‘experts’ with conflicts of interests as long as your arm.

It now seems though, that the public are maybe not quite as stupid as the pharmaceutical industry previously thought.

P.S I’m not having a go at The MJFF, no doubt their intentions were good. I love Michael J. Fox; he’s fab in The Good Wife.

Drug slows progression of Parkinson’s, says study

FDA unamimously votes down Azilect

Psychiatric Drugs: Evidence Based Medicine or Psychiatry’s Smoke Ball?

Smoke ball 1

Psychiatric Drugs: Evidence Based Medicine or Psychiatry’s Smoke Ball?

 

For decades doctors and psychiatrists have defended the use and efficacy of psychiatric drugs, from declaring that they ‘revolutionised the treatment of depression’[1] to just plain ‘lifesaving’[2]. Indeed Irish Psychiatrist Patricia Casey has proclaimed that antidepressants are lifesaving and that for early improvement in ‘clinical’ depression, ‘antidepressants are the best and often the only option’[3]. Today the most widely prescribed psychiatric drugs are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors – SSRI antidepressants. Yet tragically for many, SSRIs are also thought to be the most dangerous. According to Dr David Healy, incidentally also an Irish psychiatrist, but additionally a scientist and psychopharmacologist “90% of school shootings over more than a decade have been linked to a widely prescribed type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.” Dr Healy argues the opposite to Casey, stating:

“there is no research evidence to suggest that anyone’s life is saved by taking an antidepressant but if there are lives saved the research makes it clear that for every life saved there must be another lost. There are probably something between 1000-1500 extra suicides in the US each year, triggered by an antidepressant – an extra 2000 -2500 in Europe. The data is similar for violence[4].” 

To put that number into perspective – 206 people have died since 2007 from bird flu, yet there was mass hysteria and a huge media frenzy. If Dr Healy’s statistics are correct, at least 3000-4000 suicides are induced by antidepressants each year, every year. Yet despite this huge number, the media seem reluctant to go up against the drug companies, their paid experts or the medicines regulators. Dr David Graham, who worked at the drug safety department with the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, stated that ‘all of these drugs appear to have the ability to increase the risk of suicidal behavior’. What was particularly disturbing is that he revealed the FDA (America’s Drug Safety Regulator) had suppressed a colleague’s report which found that most antidepressants don’t actually work in treating children[5]. I assume he says ‘most’ because Eli Lilly’s Fluoxetine was approved by the FDA in the treatment of children. Yet John Virapen, who worked for Eli Lilly for 35 years, testified that he used bribery and corruption to get Fluoxetine approved, knowing full well what Lilly knew all along, that Fluoxetine increased the risk of suicide and homicide[6].

The regulatory warnings for increased suicidality which were eventually attached to SSRIs are for children and young people up to the age of 25. This implies that SSRIs are safe in people older than 25, an implication which is extremely misleading. In 2006 an inquest was held in Dublin, Ireland, for a 62 year old businessman. His self inflicted death occured 5 days after starting Lundbeck’s SSRI Escitalopram/Lexapro. At the inquest his wife pointed out that Lexapro was associated with suicide, a fact that she wasn’t made aware of beforehand. Professor Casey, who attended the inquest, argued that “scientific research indicates that children under 18 who are prescribed SSRI antidepressants were at increased risk of ‘suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts’ but people of 30 years and older were not affected similarly”. Not so according to Dr Healy who says the risk of drug induced suicide and violence affect all age groups, not just the young[7]. He is not alone. Peter Gøtzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Centre also came to the same conclusion. He stated “SSRIs likely increase the risk of suicide at all ages. These drugs are immensely harmful[8]”. A retired psychiatrist and former inspector of mental health hospitals noted that SSRIs increased Ireland’s suicide rate. Dr Dermot Walsh stated in the British Medical Journal:

“In the context of the current debate on the efficacy of antidepressants the following may be of interest. Ireland’s suicide rate has risen threefold since antidepressants became available with the greatest increase occurring following the introduction of the SSRIs[9].”

Not surprisingly the drug companies rarely admit liability, usually testifying that it was ‘the underlying illness’ to blame, not their drug. Despite the many contradictions to this, their ‘underlying illness’ mantra rarely changes. People like Woody Witczak are dismissed as anecdotal. Woody was 37 and lived in the US. He was prescribed Pfizer’s SSRI Sertraline, not for depression but for insomnia. Five weeks later, this ‘upbeat and happy’ man killed himself. Following his death Woody’s wife Kim acquired some internal confidential documents from Pfizer[10]. One of these confidential documents was from Pfizer to The Irish Medicines Board (IMB). The documents referred to Pfizer’s clinical studies on Sertraline which concluded that the age group with the highest suicide rate was 31-40 and that the most dangerous time is 15-30 days after starting this medication. She also discovered that 54 of the 252 suicides that Pfizer investigated were found to be causally related to Sertraline.

In 2011 another inquest was held in Ireland, this time for Nicholas Maguire, aged 52, again a businessman. Mr Maguire’s family raised concerns over his recent prescription for Sertraline/Zoloft. They said their brother had been ‘driven mad’ by the pills and that there had been a dramatic change in his personality while taking Sertraline. Following the inquest Irish psychiatrist Timothy Dinan defended the drug, stating ‘The use of Sertraline helps to reduce suicidality and reduce depression’. Despite being on the Advisory Committee for Human Medicines at the IMB, Professor Dinan also stated ‘The public should have no concerns about these drugs’[11].

There is growing concern among academia that these drugs have little or no efficacy[12] and are in fact doing more harm than good[13]. Many will be aware of the curious case of Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company[14] where a unilateral contract was offered by a company advertisment to the world at large. The company proclaimed that using their smoke ball would prevent the user from contracting influenza. Mrs Carlill did and the smoke ball didn’t! The company argued that they didn’t intend to be taken seriously, that the advertisment was in fact mere ‘sales puff’ and therefore not legally binding; the court held otherwise.

The drug company literature now readily admit that SSRIs are associated with an increased risk of suicide and violence[15]. Could it be that psychiatrys’ medical model is actually the equivalent of a latter-day carbolic smoke ball? Yet unlike the harmless smoke ball, psychiatry’s medical model is actually causing many, many deaths. Will our future decendants see the demise of the SSRI as just another fraudulent snakeoil or smoke ball generation? The defenders of the medical model may yet be exposed as prescription drug pushers, albeit disguised as the caring psychiatrist or doctor.

Iatrogenic death, or prescription drug induced death, is an issue which most lay people will thankfully be oblivious to. Where Iatrogenesis is slowly becoming apparent though is in the courtroom. This was seen recently in Manitoba, where Justice Robert Heinrichs found that a 16 year old boy was driven to commit an unprovoked murder because of the adverse affects of taking Fluoxetine/Prozac[16]. Dr Peter Breggin testified that the teenager’s actions were drug induced and he would not have committed the violence if he had not been given the antidepressant[17]. Dr Breggin has warned of the dangers of SSRIs for decades and has been an expert witness in a number of successful drug induced cases[18].

It seems that deciphering scientific evidence and whether the ‘independent’ expert is in fact a paid pharma shill has yet to be argued in the courtroom. The European judiciary largely defers to the psychiatric expert when determining ‘mental health’ cases; seemingly reluctant to use its own discretion, rather deferring to the possibly biased opinion of the individual psychiatrist. According to Herxheimer et al:[19]

“Many judges and coroners have not addressed these questions clearly and have not used expert witnesses consistently, on occasion disregarding scientific evidence. Courts need to appoint experts to explain and interpret the scientific evidence. Few judges are equipped to resolve contradictions between different experts” and “The reluctance of legal processes to implicate drugs as a possible cause of violent behaviour leads to injustice. Courts must be required to obtain appropriate expert evidence, and be given independent data on which drugs can cause such behaviour.”

A recent Plos One study ‘Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others’found that 31 drugs were disproportionally associated with violence[20]. 11 of these were antidepressants.

Far from finding justice, as Herxheimer said, the reluctance of the courts to implicate prescription drugs can lead to injustice. An article in the 2012 Law Society Gazette reviewed a book entitled ‘You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom’ by journalist and author Nick Cohen. The reviewer stated that “Lawyers do not figure highly in the estimation of newspaper columnist Nick Cohen. His broadside at censorship in a liberal age paints solicitors, barristers and judges as the lackeys of oligarchs and snake-oil sellers and conspirators in liberal silence when the going gets tough”[21].

It is submitted that Mr Cohen may have a valid point. Despite the lack of evidence or any available test to confirm or deny any ‘mental illness’, once the psychiatric expert has given his opinion either way, the fate of the accused is sealed. It is very, very rare that prescription drug induced violence is put forward as a defence, most likely because the psychiatric expert will deny all knowledge of Iatrogenesis and the courts will defer to such wisdom. It is further submitted that a puff of the aforementioned smoke ball would be much less risky than taking a chance with an SSRI.

Declaration of Interest

In 2009 my son died by stabbing himself multiple times. He took the life of another young man on the same night. He had been prescribed Lundbeck’s Citalopram/Celexa 17 days beforehand, not for any mental illness but for a break-up with his girlfriend. He was never diagnosed with any illness, mental or otherwise, apart from a posthumous diagnosis on national TV by Professor Patricia Casey. From early on I was aware that Citalopram caused my son’s death and enabled him to take the life of another human being. I shouted this from the rooftops to anyone who would listen. Some did, some didn’t.

Dr David Healy testified at my son’s inquest stating that Citalopram (and all SSRIs) could cause a person to become suicidal and homicidal. He opined that Citalopram caused both my son’s death and the death of the other young man. The College of Psychiatry of Ireland intervened and involved themselves before, during and after the inquest. The college collectively denied that this family of drug could cause a person to become suicidal or homicidal. Professor Casey attended my son’s inquest, representing the college of psychiatry. She was refused permission to testify by the Coroner, Cahal Louth. Despite this, immediately following the inquest she stood outside the Coroner’s court and spoke on national TV stating that there were ‘issues’ with the evidence. A press statement was subsequently released by the college stating that the sworn expert evidence (by Dr David Healy) was, in their view, speculative. Referring to him as ‘the expert’, never once mentioning his name, the college of psychiatry proceeded to contradict his testimony and defend the drug[22]. Similar to the drug companies, they blamed the ‘underlying illness’ not the drug, eg “Anecdotal cases of suicide sometimes mistakenly attribute these tragic events to the treatment rather than the illness itself”. The college denied there was any evidence linking SSRIs to suicide or violence. They further stated that “Antidepressants do not cause violence. Neither are they, nor can they be expected to be, an inoculation against violence.”

Professor Timothy Dinan also spoke to the media afterwards. He said that he could say with “100 per cent certainty, without any fear of contradiction, that modern anti-depressants such as the drug Citalopram … do not cause people to commit murder”. He also added that there was no evidence that the drugs can cause suicide[23].

It should be noted that professors Casey and Dinan both received numerous honoraria from Lundbeck, the implicated drug company. Professor Dinan has received honoraria from and is a member of the speakers’/advisory board for Lilly, Lundbeck, Organon and Pfizer the inventor of Sertraline, the same SSRI he defended following Mr Maguire’s inquest. Despite being in attendance at the inquest, Lundbeck’s representative remained silent. I later discovered through a Freedom of Information request that the college statement regarding my son was forwarded, via internal college email, to the pharmaceutical company Lundbeck. The ethicality of Irish psychiatry’s involvement in my son’s inquest is questionable. Individual psychiatrists defending a drug while simultaneously working for the same drug company is surely a bias too far?

Evidence Based Medicine or Psychiatry’s Smoke Ball?

 

References

[1] L. White, G. Duncan, and W. Baumle, Medical Surgical Nursing: An Integrated Approach, 3rd edn., Delmar, 2012, p. 1286.

[2] P. Casey Sometimes words are not enough to lift depression, Irish Independent, 08/01/2010 http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/sometimes-words-are-not-enough-to-lift-depression-(accessed 30/June/2014).

[3]ibid

[4]D. Healy  ‘Prozac and SSRIs: Twenty-fifth Anniversary’ 6 February 2013 http://davidhealy.org/prozac-and-ssris-twenty-fifth-anniversary/  (accessed 30/June/2014)

[5]M. Loudon  30 August 2005 The FDA Exposed: An Interview With DrDavid Graham, the Vioxx Whistleblower’ (accessed 30/June/2014)

[6]J. Virapen J ‘Side Effects Death’ Virtualbookworm.com Publishing Inc. 2010 Introduction p. ix

[7]D. Healy ‘Guilty’ 15 January 2014 http://davidhealy.org/guilty-2/

(accessed 30/June/2014)

[8] Peter C. Gotzsche Deadly Medicines and Organised CrimeRadcliffe Publishing Ltd 2013P.224

[9]D. Walsh ‘Antidepressants and suicide in Ireland’ BMJ Rapid Response 21 July 2004 http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/30/antidepressants-and-suicide-ireland (accessed 1/July/2014)

[10]Youtube. (12th March 2012) ‘Kim Witczak’s Testimony to the FDA Advisory Committee’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIjy4p9-LDY&list=UUh_XlTLw71KOqlM_ELnAu8w

[11]E. English ‘Family calls for more research into anti-depressants’ Irish Examiner 06 May 2011 http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/health/family-calls-for-more-research-into-anti-depressants-153706.html (accessed 30/June/2014)

[12]Kirsch I, Deacon BJ, Huedo-Medina TB, Scoboria A, Moore TJ, et al. (2008) Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Med 5(2): e45. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045

[13]Whitaker R Medical Hypotheses (2004) ‘The case against antipsychotic drugs: a 50-year record of doing more harm than good’ Medical Hypotheses (2004) 62, 5–13

[14] [1893] Q.B. 256

[15]Healy D, Herxheimer A, Menkes DB (2006) ‘Antidepressants and Violence: Problems at the Interface of Medicine and Law’. PLoS Med 3(9): e372. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030372

[16]M. McIntrye(17 September 2011). “Judge Agrees Prozac Made Teen a Killer,” Winnipeg Free Press.http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/judge-agrees-prozac-made-teen-a-killer-130010278.html (accessed 30/June/2014)

[17]P Breggin ‘Psychiatric Drug Facts’ http://breggin.com/ (accessed 30/June/2014)

[18]Suicidality, violence and mania caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): A review and analysis∗ IOS Press International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 16 (2003/2004) 31–49 31

[19] Herxheimer et al ‘Case histories as evidence’ Int J Risk Saf Med. 2012; 24(1):23-9.

[20]Moore et al. Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others. PLoS ONE 5(12): e15337.

[21]M Cross. Book Reviews: A broadside at censorship in a liberal age – (2012) LS Gaz, 8 Mar, 17 (2)

[22] The College of Psychiatry of Ireland13 May 2010 ‘Antidepressant Medication – Clarification13 May 2010’

http://www.irishpsychiatry.ie/Libraries/External_Affairs/CPsychI_Press_statement_antidressant_medicaiton_clarification_13_05_10_NO_Mobiles.sflb.ashx (accessed 30/June/2014)

[23] R. McGreevy Violence link to medication rejected by psychiatrist 27 April 2010 Irish Times http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-21922198.html (accessed 30/June/2014)

 

COI- Condition or Iatrogenic?

Conflict of InterestDoes anybody actually care about the conflict of interests which exist between the medical professionals and drug companies? Just suppose these inherent conflict of interests, particularly within the ‘mental health’ field, are actually causing many deaths, not curtailing them? Will it matter then?

Example:

Nessa Childers tweeted today “Call to action?: Mental illness can reduce life expectancy more than smoking” and added a link to this article. The article concerned the reduction of life expectancy in people suffering from ‘mental illness’. Excerpt below:

The researchers found the average reduction in life expectancy in people with bipolar disorder is between nine and 20 years. It is 10 to 20 years for schizophrenia, nine and 24 years for drug and alcohol abuse, and around seven to 11 years for recurrent depression. This was due to “high-risk behaviours” in psychiatric patients including drug abuse and suicide.” 

The article was published on the ‘BlackDogTribe’ website which then linked to Sane, a self-professed ‘leading UK mental health charity’. In December 2012 Sane acquired the BlackDogTribe website, amalgamating both. Sane is supported by Lundbeck pharmaceuticals that happen to make drugs for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The article quoted Mark Winstanley of ‘Rethink Mental Illness’ who said it was “a scandal that people with mental illness are at risk of dying 20 years younger than average, because of preventable physical health problems”. Rethink Mental Illness is incidentally also supported by Lundbeck pharmaceuticals. 

Dr Seena Fazel from Oxford University said that these deaths were due to “high-risk behaviours in psychiatric patients including drug abuse and suicide”. Dr Fazel was a speaker at the 2012 SIRS (Schizophrenia International Research Society) conference, sponsored by the usual pharmaceutical companies: Lundbeck, Lilly, Pfizer Et cetera. He delared no conflict of interest, so I guess he must have been speaking pro bono and must have paid his own air fares to Florence. He also spoke at last months SIRS conference (April 2014), again in Florence. Interestingly Dr Fazel was one of the medical professionals who recently put his name to a letter defending psychiatric drugs. This came in the wake of the CEP (Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry) publicly stating that psychiatric drugs are causing death, illness and in fact doing more harm than good. Incidentally, two of Dr Fazel’s literary colleagues, Professors Guy Goodwin and David Nutt, appeared in the recent Panorama programme ‘Who’s Paying Your Doctor?’

What the CEP are saying, is that the increasing deaths are due to the drugs and not the illness. David Healy et al have been saying the same thing for a long time; here’s an excerpt from his blog on schizophrenia:

“Patients with schizophrenia are 10 times more likely to be dead at the end of the first year of treatment than they were 100 years ago. There is no other illness in medicine where such a statement could be made… So what causes the suicides? The evidence points to the antipsychotics. In placebo controlled double blind trials these drugs show an excess of suicides and suicidal acts with drugs like Zyprexa having the highest suicide and suicidal act rate in clinical trial history. This is good news because if most deaths in young people with schizophrenia come from suicide and the antipsychotics make a contribution to this, there is an opportunity to correct the problem. The problem almost certainly stems from drug induced dysphoria. Patients are not on the right drug for them.” 

Is it really incidental that the medical professionals and mental health charities who are reliant on pharma funding, blame the illness and defend the drugs? Is it further coincidental that independent researchers and academics have concluded that it is in fact the drugs that are causing the deaths.

Does the conflict of interest really not matter, or will it only become an issue when you find the dead and lifeless body of your much loved son, daughter or sibling? I know who I’d believe.

http://www.sane.org.uk/uploads/black_dog_tribe_press_release.pdf

TV3 Documentary

Shane and the lads.

On Monday 10th March, TV3 will air a documentary covering the events surrounding the death of my son Shane and his killing of Sebastian Creane.

We decided to participate in this programme because it provided others with the opportunity to hear about the role that SSRI antidepressants played in the tragic deaths of both young men. This is information we wish we had known before Shane’s death and which we believe may prevent other families suffering the pain we all now live with. Vincent Browne and Lisa-Marie Berry (the Producer) assured us that the programme will be well balanced to all concerned and that we will be kept informed of everything. This TV3 Tweet shows the last recording of my son before his death, something I wasn’t aware existed and certainly wasn’t informed of.  I was assured that Shane’s friends would be interviewed for the programme. One of his friends was indeed approached by Vincent Brown; he agreed to do it but is still waiting for the call. As the programme, which I haven’t yet seen, airs in 2 days; I have concerns that I should have gone with my initial decision – to leave the other familes to it.

Maybe the documentary will be as objective as promised. Either way, I feel there are some relevant issues which I should clarify before the airing of this programme.

 

The Late Late Show:

When we were approached to do the Late Late Show some weeks after Shane died, we were absolutely terrified. The initial feeling was to run, stay away from it – I had no idea how to deal with something like that and we were still deeply in shock – we still are. Our over-riding feeling, from the very beginning, has been that if this can happen to Shane it could happen to anyone – people needed to be warned. That was the deciding factor. I informed the other families that we were appearing on the show and assumed they were asked also. We were then told that Sebastian’s family didn’t want us to do it as his month’s mind was on that weekend, so we arranged with RTE to do it the following week instead. I have never felt anything other than thankful to Ryan Tubridy and his team for allowing us (as Shane’s family) to tell our story and also for allowing Dr Michael Corry to inform the public of the dangers that these drugs can pose. It was never our intention to hurt anyone by doing this show. We felt that the only way to stop more tragedies like ours was to make the public aware of the dangers too.

The inquest:

I was happy with how the inquest went. James McGuill and David Healy were great – despite the fact that Shane died from self-inflicted wounds, the jury rejected a suicide verdict. As for Professor Patricia Casey, who attended Shane’s inquest on behalf of of the Irish College of Psychiatry and who directly afterwards spoke to the media of her ‘issues’ with the evidence – Professor David healy is a psychopharmacologist, scientist and the world-leading expert on the effects of psychiatric medication; Professor Patricia Casey is not. There was no issue. It is my opinion that Professor Casey undermined the inquest process and the jury’s verdict. As a direct consequence of that, the other families involved were led to believe that the process was defective and thus prevented from getting the answers they needed. We fought very hard to get answers following  the death of our son; we got those answers. Again, it was never our intention to upset the other families in doing so. At the time I was not aware that the Creane and Hannigan families had met with the Coroner Cahal Louth before Shane’s inquest. It is my opinion, held with respect for both families, that their involvement in my son’s case, along with the involvement of Professor Casey, was inherently wrong.

The jury took on board Professor Healy’s testimony on the role the prescribed drug played that night – the effect it had on my son. They returned the only other option available to them, an open verdict. This is the part which could have helped others – a change in the law to allow a verdict of ‘Iatrogenic Death’ may be more suitable. This is currently being discussed in the Seanad by another bereaved family, also SSRI drug induced. A rider would have been useful, where an investigation into this medication (or all SSRIs) could have been recommended – or at the very least caution advised. The fact is that Coroners have ordered investigations into this drug before. It comes with a black box warning in the US. In Canada the same drug company has warned clinicians of reports of ‘self harm and harm to others’. The inquest could have played a role in informing Irish people of this.

The Role the Drugs Played:

Professor  Healy said that what happened that night was caused by Shane taking the prescribed drug Citalopram. I believe if Shane had not been prescribed Citalopram, both young men would still be alive today. One issue that sometimes comes up, usually from psychiatry protecting their medical model, is that I might be doing more harm than good – possibly stopping people from taking drugs which are perfectly suited to them. These drugs are being prescribed to our children without warning that they can cause cause suicide, violence, worsening depression, mania, akathisia, birth defects and sexual dysfunction. People need to be informed – informed consent is the issue here/or lack of;  the choice is then theirs to make. I have never advised anyone not to take medication or to stop taking it – I have, if asked, given all the facts, not just the harmless effects. Irish citizens have the right to the same level of protection and informed consent as Americans and Canadians.

 

What Can The Irish Government Do?

I have been part of a delegation which met with Kathleen Lynch in Leinster House. This included Professor David Healy, Dr Declan Gilsenan and Tim O’Malley. Each one told her of their concerns that these drugs are harming people. Prof Healy told her these drugs are the leading cause of death within the mental health field while Dr Gilsenan told her that his experience as a pathologist led him to believe that the majority of suicide victims had been ‘recently introduced’ to SSRIs. Both Kathleen Lynch and Tim O’Malley acknowledged that these dangerous drugs are widely over-prescribed.

As a country we need to urgently address our high rates of suicide.  The Irish government need to start by gathering and publishing data showing how many suicides and homicides were caused by SSRIs. The investigation into the practices at Portlaoise Hospital was initiated after the death of 4 babies. Ireland has had 525 deaths by suicide last year. Preventing further deaths requires understanding the drivers behind them.

Currently those who provide us with data on the role of SSRIs in suicide and homicide have financial links with pharmaceutical companies like Lundbeck, who exert significant influence over psychiatrists, academia and our Government. Patricia Casey, who has up until this documentary rejected any claims that SSRIs can cause suicide and who has attempted to influence and discredit the verdict of the jury at Shane’s Inquest, has received payment from Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals. She is not alone.  Many of the most published academics from Irish universities and the Irish government also have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies. Sadly, the Irish College of Psychiatrists and the government are in denial about the issue of prescription drug induced suicide. For this reason, we need a fully independent inquiry into this issue, one which is not influenced by the pharmaceutical industry or conducted by those who have a vested interest in the outcome.

Lundbeck Healthcare Professionals’ Warning Letter.

The Pharmaceutical Industry’s Influence in Irish Politics and Medicine.

Enda and James

The pharmaceutical industry has a long and tangled involvement within Irish politics. Besides politics, our medical ‘experts’ have built up their training and expertise while simultaneously having a fundamental collegial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma politics may not be news to Americans, Latvians or our British neighbours – but as Ireland is my Country of birth, I claim poetic licence in focusing on my specific geographical area. Corruption within this industry has been widely publicised elsewhere but there seems to be a reticence within the Irish media to report on pharma wrongdoing or the objectivity of the psychiatric expert. My son, a young Irishman, died under the influence of 17 days of Citalopram (an SSRI antidepressant) – manufactured by Lundbeck, prescribed by a doctor, licensed by the Irish Medicine’s Board (henceforth IMB) and protected by the Irish College of Psychiatry (henceforth the College).

Despite much evidence to the contrary, our health Minister James Reilly has been quoted in the media as saying that “SSRIs aren’t addictive and treat depression effectively”. He also denied that GPs are systematically over-prescribing SSRIs.[1] He subsequently managed to ignore two medical experts (David Healy and Declan Gilsenan) who gave testimony in Leinster House that antidepressants were the leading cause of death within the mental health field and were in fact causing hundreds of Irish deaths each year. According to the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association there are approximately 120 pharmaceutical companies that have plants in Ireland – including 9 of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.[2]

Last year the Irish Times reported that the Irish Government ‘came under pressure’ from the larger pharmaceutical firms over the Health Service Executives’ (HSE) decision not to approve new drugs for payment. There was an implied threat that this could ‘have implications for 25,000 jobs and future investment’ – so not surprisingly Enda Kenny and James Reilly backed down. The Times further reported that both had meetings with Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly, and further that Enda Kenny attended Eli Lilly’s board dinner at the Old Kinsale golf club in 2011. It is submitted that this relationship is much too close for comfort and therefore not conducive to having the Nation’s best interests at heart. Backing down under pressure from a bullying industry is never a good move, particularly when as a Nation we naturally assume that our Government is in control.

According to Dr David Healy who is regarded as the world leading expert on prescription drugs, antidepressants double the risk of suicide and violence, particularly upon starting, discontinuing and dosage change (up or down). He further stated that “antidepressants now come with black box warnings of suicide and in some jurisdictions such as Canada they come with warnings of violence also. Exactly the same mechanisms that lead to suicides lead to violence. In one case you have violence directed inward and in the other directed outwards. These mechanisms are akathisia, emotional blunting and psychosis.”[3]

The name ‘antidepressant’ itself is pure marketing genius by the pharmaceutical industry. Who would believe that these so-called magic pills can cause death, sometimes self-inflicted and extremely violent? In protecting the medical model, referring to antidepressant-induced suicide, the College stated “Anecdotal cases of suicide sometimes mistakenly attribute these tragic events to the treatment rather than the illness itself”.[4] This is a vastly differing stance compared to the IMB, the European Medicine’s Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The American regulator FDA slapped a black-box warning on all antidepressants, informing consumers of the increased risk of suicide.[5] The EMA followed suit requiring labelling changes to all antidepressants, again informing consumers of the increased risk of drug-induced suicidality.[6] The IMB is pretty limited in its capacity of protector of Irish citizens, deferring largely to the EMA. Interestingly, the IMB is almost fully funded by the pharmaceutical industry, so the public protector is funded by the very industry that it is supposed to be protecting the Irish people from. It should be noted that peter gøtzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen recently stated that the IMB banned GlaxoSmithKline from claiming that Paroxetine (Seroxat/Paxil) corrects a chemical imbalance.[7] That depression is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’ is a pharma invention used as a tool to sell antidepressant drugs. That the IMB made an executive decision and actually suppressed GSK or any other pharmaceutical company is the exception rather than the rule.

We don’t have to look too far to see Governmental and pharma influence within the medical industry. The ‘Sherif Sultan Saga’ is a prime example of the bullying and intimidation of a medical professional. Mr Sultan is a consultant in Galway who received an official warning and a gag order from the HSE for speaking out on the dangers of taking statin drugs.[8] This followed the publication of his paper ‘The ugly side of Statins’.[9] Mr Sultan said what David Healy has been saying for a long time, that he and his colleagues “are fed up with trial of organizations to cover up truth about the ugly side of statin because of invested interest and commercial sponsorship.” He also stated that “We are observing the revealing of the ‘utmost medical tragedy’ of all times. It is extraordinary that the healthcare industry has inadvertently induced life-threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.”

Similar to the attempt at suppressing Sherif Sultan, the psychiatric Professors Patricia Casey, University College Dublin, and Ted Dinan, University College Cork, involved themselves not only in my son’s inquest but also with others where antidepressants were implicated. Both had long links to the same pharmaceutical companies who manufactured the implicated drug and both without exception defended the drugs, instead blaming the supposed underlying ‘illnesses’.[10] Both these professors are supposed experts in the psychiatric field and both fiercely defend antidepressants.[11] It is submitted that the objectivity of the expert opinion is paramount, particularly where the law is concerned. As the coronial system is the only Court of law where a deceased’s family can get answers, in cases of drug-induced death, bias or even a perception of bias should automatically render these ‘experts’ excluded from the legal process.

The health of the Irish nation will never be of utmost importance while our medical professionals, the IMB and the Irish Government have a vested interest in upholding the existing ‘pharma funded’ regime. While it seems my son was just a number in the collateral damage of the latter – I urge you to protect your family, start asking questions and stop trusting these dubious so-called professionals.


[7] Peter Gøtzsche ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime’ P. 199